Monday, 9 November 2009

Fair and Impartial reporting?

Recently Channel Television sent Jess Dunsden over to Westminster where she interviewed Senator Stuart Syvret. The interview can be seen HERE.

The interview and the interviewer have come in for a bit of stick from the ever growing online community and supporters of Senator Syvret’s cause. It must be said that some of the stick might be justified, that is to say Jess Dunsden appeared way out of her depth, ill researched, and at one particular point, absolutely barking when she suggested to the Senator he bring a proposition to the States!

Her questions, it is claimed by Karen Rankine, were based on comments and questions left by readers of the Channel Television website. It has since become apparent that many of those questions came via bogus or dubious means (B. Riantz 29 Belmont Rd. springs to mind!) So were the questions a true reflection of what the majority of Jersey people are really asking? Possibly not.

It could be argued that this was a very one-sided interview, where Jess Dunsden did her level best to hold Senator Syvret to account and answer to the public he serves, and so she should. Senator Syvret should get “grilled” even if it is an attempt by a fairly young and inexperienced journalist who will no doubt be constrained by her editor(s).

So was this interview “Fair and impartial reporting”? Well that remains to be seen, so far we hold judgement. In favour of CTV and Jess Dunsden, as far as we are aware, they are the ONLY local mainstream “accredited” media to contact Senator Syvret in order to get an in-depth interview and indeed hold him to account.

Now in order to gauge the impartiality and objectiveness of this interview we shall wait and see if Jess Dunsden, or even Gillian (Paxman) Martindale “grills” Magistrate Bridget Shaw, Balliff Michael Birt, Deputy Balliff William Bailhache, AG (designate) Tim Le Coq, or Advocate Steven Baker.

All the above mentioned are looked upon, in certain circles, as “the untouchables”, that is to say if they say “I’m not giving you an interview” then the “accredited” media will report something along the lines of “so and so was not available for comment” because that is “The Jersey Way”. Any self respecting journalist would then go and “doorstep” the said individual in order to give balance to the interview broadcast of Senator Syvret and give the public the answers they deserve.

So we shall wait and see what CTV and Jess Dunsden do next. Will they be “grilling” any of the above in order to show fairness and impartiality or will they know their place in the pecking order of the “Jersey Elite” and only report what they are told to by the echelons of the Jersey Hierarchy?

We shall see!


  1. Anybody who heard today's BBC Jersey "Phone-In" would understand just how inadequate this public media service is.

    It has reached the absurd point where any names of anybody (alive or dead) who is not in the studio or might be vaguely related to past, presnt or future court cases cannot be mentioned on-air and even critical references to previous Jersey governments and their "mistakes" are also banned.

    D----l D-----y really must get a grip with his spine and his staff and issue some guidelines that reflect 21st century standards and expectations on free speech etc.

  2. I really don't think we will need to WAIT and see - we can predict quite easily what the maedia will do!

  3. I did listen to the phone-in today and agree with the last comment.

    It is my opinion Chris Stone is scaring people into not talking about Stuart Syvret.

    He has said things like "oh! you can't speculate on a court case" Chris you CAN speculate about a court case. You CAN have an opinion on a court case and you CAN air those "opinions" on the radio.

    Stop trying to muddle up "opinion" with "libel" and scaring potential supporters of Senator Syvret from contributing to your show.

  4. CTV really should be ashamed. Using Stuart's supporters names in the comment section was positively sophomoric and best!

    'Fair and Impartial reporting?' NOT!

  5. The female interviewer was quite out of her depth she was childish and disrespectful to those she interviewed, if this is the standard Channel TV strives for they have a awful long way to go

    However the one professional they have is Adam Fowler, why did they not use him?

  6. VFC - make further complaints through the BBC site with Points of View. They have to, by law, you are their employers, you pay their salaries, have to respond.

    If enough people raise complaint they will have to do something about it. It may also be worth complaining to BBC Watchdog. Afterall you are paying your licence fee's to employ these fools. The BBC should be accessible to all and be unbiased (says she tongue in cheek).

    If enough Jersey Islanders complain the matter WILL be dealt with.

  7. I am not from the beeb or any other media organisation in the island but VFC, you're attack on Chris stone is unfair. You comments abour muddling up opinion and libel are wrong. You are not allowed to speculate or comment on court cases in Britain becuase otherwise you would be in contempt of court. These laws do not exist in the US, which is why the media can say what they like about anyone in a court - ie all the stuff on OJ Simpson during the trial.
    Contempt of court in the British Isles is there to protect people to ensure they get a fair trial.
    Perhaps you should get a better understanding of these things before launching into yet another - and boring - attack on the media.

  8. Jess Dunsden's interview with Stuart and John Hemmings was sadly an embarrassing disaster.

    Disappointing really as she proved she could give a good 'Paxo' like grilling when she interviewed Senator Perchard earlier this year.

    Not only was she rude this time, but seemed to be floundering on many occasions, particularly when talking with JH. Yes, she was no doubt being led by the CTV hierarchy.

    The media in Jersey are a disgrace, and I wonder how frustrated reporters/presenters must feel. I agree, Adam Fowler does a good job as far as he is permitted, but wasted here in Jersey.

    I also note CTV are taking comments on Stuart's possible arrest. I would have thought after last week's fiasco they would have refused any comments on this issue now.

  9. I listened to the phone in and it was the usual "plants" (can name them with ease) put in there to support Syvret. I understand from the law offices this afternoon that he does not have a leg to stand on now so there support is all in vain. 5 to 1 in favour Neil, you really do talk a load of bollocks sometimes.

  10. Five out of 6 "live" callers were in support of Senator Syvret. I'm no mathematician oR statition but I make that 5 - 1. Chris Stone doesn't allow me on the programme, if he did it would have been 6 - 1.

    It does also beg the question how many more supporters of Senator Syvret's cause does Chris prevent from coming on the phone?

  11. The ""moan-in"" always has the same people on it. Rosemary, Emile, Tony, Bridget etc. The majority are always anti-establshment and for those that can be bothered to even listen to it, it never supplies much in the way of substance. I am surpised VFC even refers to it with any credibility.

  12. Believe me I give the moan-in Nor the local BBC any credability whatsoever.

  13. Who believes a word a Rankine would say. I don't.

  14. I've read every single post you and Stuart have published. I support what Stuart is trying to do.

    However, I think this has all gone a bit too far. This name calling and individual character assassination is not the way to bring about change. I believe Stuart is rapidly losing support from many people because they do not believe in his methods even if they believe in 'the cause'.

    I was recently in a restaurant, on a very large table next to ours sat Jess Dunsden. At some point one of the diners shouted "Hey Jess, I hope you got paid extra for having to interview that W****R Syvret" which was followed by a volley of establishment banter and insults from all corners of the table. Only one person spoke out in defence for Stuart. Jess Dunsden!! She said she believed in some of what Stuart was fighting for but thought he was going the wrong way about things. A brave Lady.

    Jess is not from Jersey and has not been here long, so how anyone can call her 'establishment' is beyond me. She is a journalist, doing what she is paid to do.

    How many of you reading this now, did what they were told to do by their boss today. Whether you liked it or not, you did it because that's what you were paid to do.

    Enough is enough guys seriously!

    Time to change tactics and be a bit more professional about things. I can understand the frustration with the system as it is, but personal insults about people you have never even met, are not going to change it.

    VFC I disagree with you on this one.

  15. Bertie.

    The Blog was not published to attack Jess Dunsden.

    Jess Dunsden (and Adam Fowler for that matter) are, in the opinion of Team Voice, pretty fair and objective Journalists.

    The qustion is are they working for a fair, impartial and objective organization? The other question is will they sell their journalistic soul to keep their jobs?

    As a journalist Jess Dunsden will be well aware that the interview with Senator Syvret deserves some balance. No-one is saying Senator Syvret does not deserve a grilling, quite the opposite infact, he does deserve a grilling.

    But in order to bring some balance into this item, at least one of the the judiciary members mentioned in the Blog should be subject to the same scrutiny.

    Without that balance Jess Dunsden could, and would, be called an Ollie Dolly or establishment lacky. It is her journalistic reputation that is on the line, is she prepared to jeopordise that for the sake of her editor(s)?

    For the record, it is the opinion of Team Voice, that Jess Dunsden and Adam Fowler, as far as Jersey standards go, are capable journalists with the right intentions, objectivity, balance and impartiality.

    The question is, will they be "allowed" to apply it?

  16. Everybody knows that this blog is solely set up for Tadier's Time 4 Change and Syvret's law breaking escapades. We know how many visitors you get and because of this I dont think citizens media is worth the time and effort anymore. Other States members are also aware that you film people and tamper with these filmings to make some members look stupid. This will come back and bite you in the future because it makes your argument for filming say scrutiny meetings not credible anymore Nobody apart from a few people are interested Neil. Face reality for a change and slating CTV and the Rankines will get you nowhere at all. This battle for Syvret is LOST.

  17. I thought she did her job well, which was to play devil's advocate and put to Stuart everything his critics are saying.

    This is exactly what Humphreys and Paxman do, unless there is an opposition critic present, in which case they merely mediate between the two.

    What we should see now is an equivalent interview with Bailhache or Birt where all of Stuart's accusations are put to them in a rather supercilious and sceptical tone.

  18. 'What we should see now is an equivalent interview with Bailhache or Birt where all of Stuart's accusations are put to them in a rather supercilious and sceptical tone'.

    Sadly though Rob, the chances of that happening are virtually nil, and I think this was partly what VFC was trying to highlight in his post.

  19. "Any self respecting journalist would then go and “doorstep” the said individual in order to give balance to the interview broadcast of Senator Syvret and give the public the answers they deserve."

    The above statement illustrates that you really have absolutely no idea at all.

  20. "Senator Syvret should get “grilled” even if it is a p1ss poor attempt by a fairly young and inexperienced journalist who will no doubt be constrained by her editor(s)."

    And now we see why citizen media will always remain a joke. What a an nasty ignorant little man you are.

  21. Neil - I am pleased you are giving 'blog space' to the two childish petty comments at the end of your comments section.

    It just goes to show the mindset of some people who really just DO NOT get it at all, and furthermore cannot respond with a sensible reasoned response.

    Citizens Media will live for a long time precisely because it affords the public with the alternative to the Establishment Media.

  22. Jill, I agree with all the arguments in the VFC post. I made the same comment on the CTV site, that some establishment figures should be given an equally thorough grilling on the subject.

    However, I don't agree with the statement, "it is a p1ss poor attempt by a fairly young and inexperienced journalist".

    I think she did her job well and from other clips of her she seems to be a highly-competent and quick-thinking news presenter.

    It goes without saying that if she was of Paxman status she wouldn't be working at CTV.

    And if we're going to sling mud on the subject of journalistic standards, her name is "Jess Dunsdon".

  23. I am glad we have not 'fallen out' then Rob, as I always consider your posts well thought out and sensible.

    I think the point is that Jess (who I do agree, has done some very good interviewing in the past), did not appear to be up to her usual standard in comparison, therefore making one wonder just whose questions they really were??

    Pity she had not been given a free rein on this one.

  24. Rob.

    I too value your contributions. On reflection, I feel the "p1ss poor attempt" was perhaps a little south of the boarder and uncalled for.

    So my apologies to Jess DunsdOn (thanks for the spelling Rob). But it is a little difficult sometimes not to let the frustration of a partizan media, along with a corrupt government get the better of me.

  25. PS.

    Forgot to mention I have edited out the offending piece. I do still maintain she is young and inexperienced but that is not an insult, it's an observation

  26. I thought she was a bit supercilious but Stuart was able to state his reasons and bat away her criticisms.

    The problem I see is not with her but the whole bias of news in Jersey and its subservience to authority. Everyone knows that Bailhache or Birt are not going to get the same treatment.

    Although Jersey is a particularly egregious example of the emasculation of local news, it is sadly typical, as was revealed in Nick Davies' "Flat Earth News" and this recent article by George Monbiot.

  27. Rob.

    Have just read your link (above) and it is a must read for all JEP readers or even all viewers/listeners to our local "accredited" media outlets.

  28. Yes, the state of local and (most) national news is depressing. You have to search out the nuggets and supplement it with other sources, such as blogs.

    However, there are very few bloggers that are investigative journalists or have the time to uncover new information.

    What they can do - as you and TonyMusings do admirably - is double-check the official story and provide fresh perspectives on it. Blogs like yours are also vehicles for opinions outside of the mainstream.

    Stuart's blog was doubly interesting because he had access to inside information. However, his more recent postings - apart from the recent one on Ogley and how they engineered his dismissal - have had less information content. I wonder if that is because he is now quite marginalized from power, except in relation to his ongoing court case?

    I was recently reading Victor Hugo's "The Norman Archipelago" (his potted history of the Channel Isles, written as a preface to his novel "The Toilers of the Sea") and it's interesting that he praises Jersey for its liberality of thought and expression, and states in passing that at that time (circa 1855) there were seven newspapers on the island, four in French and three in English.

    He has a chapter entitled, 'Kindness of the People of the Archipelago', which opens:

    "Those who have seen the Norman archipelago love it; those who have lived there esteem it. The inhabitants are a noble little people, great of soul."

    In another section, talking about the freedom of expression that exists on the islands, he says:

    "You may think, speak, write, print, make a speech on anything you like: that is your own affair. You are free to hear anything and read anything, and that implies you are also free to say anything and write anything. And so there is absolute freedom of speech and of the press. Anyone who wants can be a printer..."

    It would be interesting to trace the trajectory of social and political change from 1855 to 2009 to see how that freedom was eroded. I suspect that the Nazis had a bigger imprint on the image of authority in Jersey than they did on its coastline.

  29. Re "Anyone who wants can be a printer..."

    At least you can now replace 'printer' with 'blogger'.


  30. Of course there was a financial advantage in the encouragement of printers in 19th century Jersey because newspapers could be produced here (for export) by the many political refugees without the imposition of taxes. And the laws on international copyright were vague too so that pirate copies of books etc could be produced here for the world market - just like China today.

    Hugo was of course deported from Jersey to Guernsey for his comments about Queen Victoria - so it was never really any sort of democratic paradise. Especially if johnny foreigners were critical of local institutions.......

  31. The newspapers Hugo refers to were local papers, not for export.

    True, he was eventually expelled from Jersey but the facts are much more interesting than you suggest.

    Firstly, he didn't write the letter 'insulting' Queen Victoria: it was written and published by some French exiles in London. Even though he thought the letter crass, Hugo expressed solidarity with the letter writers by having a declaration posted around the island, which finished with the words, 'Now banish us!'

    The truth is (as was revealed in Graham Robb's excellent biography of Hugo), that Hugo's banishment from Jersey was ultimately the result of the pressure exerted by the French Government on Palmerston.

    "In direct response to complaints from the French... a Sergeant J. Saunders of the Metropolitan Police was ordered to Jersey." His expenses were paid by the Foreign Office Secret Service, not the Met. Saunders, unable to speak French, nevertheless "did his best to confirm Palmerston's suspicions."

    This official attitude "trickled down to the Jersey people" and agent provocateurs were used to smear and tarnish Hugo's reputation in Jersey. His final expulsion was "as he himself always insisted - the culmination of an undercover operation directly inspired by French diplomacy."

    When the translation of the letter not written by Hugo was published in the Jersey paper L'Impartial [sic], it triggered his expulsion. A few months later "the editor of the L'Impartial received a large sum of money from the Ministry of the Interior in Paris for 'upholding French interests on Jersey with notable vigour and proficiency'."
    Hugo never blamed the people of Jersey even though he had to barricade himself in his house for three days because of a lynch mob outside his door.

    "Several pillars of Jersey society signed a petition and published pamphlets against the expulsion. On the mainland, protest meetings were held in London, Newcastle, Paisley, and Glasgow. The incident became known as 'the Jersey coup d'etat'. The idea that Britain had bowed to French pressure was deeply shocking. Several newspapers predicted the fall of Palmerston's Government."

    Of course, the victors write history so the official story was that Hugo was expelled because he 'ungrateful to his hosts'. Not true, as his move to Guernsey and his remaining love of the Channel Isles attests.

    Fortunately for us, Victor wrote a bigger, longer history that is a testament to freedom of thought and expression.

    Which is why you need seven newspapers and a few dozen blogs.

    (all quotes from "Victor Hugo", by Graham Robb)

  32. Hands up anybody who has actually read any Victor Hugo books.

    Going to the musical does not count.

  33. Well, there are two challenges - firstly, nineteenth century literary language is a challenge for most 20th/21st century readers.

    Secondly, Hugo's books are full of ideas and long digressions on his favourite subjects. I find most of them fascinating but I can see why others might not.

    But, in translation, his books are no more difficult than Dickens or the Brontes, authors who are still widely read.

    Hugo was a great story teller but if you only look at the story, you miss the real depth of his books, which is why Le Notre Dame de Paris ended up being translated as 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' - ie, they only focused on the melodramatic aspect of the book and missed its ideas.

    Hugo was accused of writing down to the masses and has been, probably rightly, eclipsed by greater stylists such as Flaubert, but his books are still worth reading.

    If you live in the Channel Isles, I would definitely recommend "The Toilers of the Sea", which is set on Guernsey. You will be astonished at how he managed to observe everything about the islands and its peoples in such depth.

    If you do buy it, buy the edition prefaced by "The Norman Archipelago".

    It's a great reminder of the character of the islands as they used to be and the spirit which is still lurking in the caves and valleys of the coast, not to mention the spirit of independence and free-thinking found in many of its inhabitants who refuse to kow-tow to pompous authority.

  34. Haven't read his books but have visited his St Peter Port house. Bit of an odd bod and he was so afraid that the political assassins were being sent to get him - even in jolly little peaceful Guernsey - that he had strategic mirrors on stairways so as to see them coming.

    Political exile seeking sanctuary in "another" country! Ring any bells......(so to speak)?

  35. Bob Kent clearly refers to a different Channel Islands when he describes the inhabitants as having a "a spirit of independence and free thinking....who refuse to kow-tow to pompous authority."

    Even Roy Le Herissier on one of his rare expeditions off the fence wrote "Mine was a classic Jersey family, with Father almost paranoid about being stigmatised - that fear of putting one's head above the parapet. There was this residual respect for authority, a deference which allowed an element of dissent, but only it it went so far and no further. (This trait is menifested today in the likes of Stuart Syvret who acts as a surrogate and is prepared to articulate what many of the population feel but fear to express)......."
    (extract from p 101 Speaking for Jersey by Robin Pittman pub 2003).

    Whatever happened to the baker's son from Maufant?

  36. Times change, and I'm not saying that that applies to everyone. It's been noted elsewhere that Jersey people have a strong streak of independence and don't like being told what to do (who does?).

    One author attributed it to the fact that in the 19th century Jersey had the highest proportion of independently-employed people in Europe. That is, people who made their livings from small-holdings, fishing, and other trades. If you've been your own boss, you're less likely to be told what to do by somebody else.

    Another factor might be the sheer number of migrants, 'asylum seekers', and transients who settled in or passed through Jersey over the years. From Royalists to Quakers and Huguenots, these were people who were persecuted for their beliefs or who they were. People who have been subjected to persecution tend to be more tolerant of diversity.

    I agree with you up to a point about defiance only going so far, but I believe that Jersey people were much less deferential in that period. For evidence of this see Tony's blog and VoiceForProtest.

  37. Re "Bit of an odd bod and he was so afraid that the political assassins were being sent to get him - even in jolly little peaceful Guernsey - that he had strategic mirrors on stairways so as to see them coming."

    People were definitely out to get him. He took an active part in at least two revolutions. There were orders for him to be shot on sight, which was why he fled to Belgium and then Jersey.

    "No sooner had the Hugos arranged their books on mantelpieces and draped sheets over the packing crates than spies began to prowl about Marine Terrace." (Robb, p. 319)

    As for him being an 'odd bod', that's the point aint it? We don't want our artists to be 'normal', otherwise they would just have boring jobs in offices.

  38. You are in the same fantasy world as Syvret, of course these comments and questions were genuine, they interviewed people on the street FFS! You just don't like facing the truth.